Dealing with moving as a kid is never not painful. Under some circumstances, it it could be a positive event, but in many cases, it is not a pleasurable event. Kids need to deal with quite a bit of adversity when they move. They need to adjust to all kinds of new things that adults do not really need to adjust to as much when they move. And they need to do it by being the “new kid” in their school and other communities. This is not easy for anybody, let alone a child.
As a parent, you are responsible for how happy your kids are. And just by moving, you have (unintentionally, of course) set back the happiness of your kids a fair bit. Here are a few things that you can do to help your kids cope with (and even feel good about) moving.
Age Determines Emotional Responses
The very first thing that you should do as a parent is understand that different age groups of kids are going to yield certain responses. A nine-year-old in grade school thinks that everything lasts forever and that his or her world will never be the same again after moving, while a sixteen-year-old high school junior will be able to put moving in perspective a little better. Knowing this, and thinking back to your own responses to moving as a young person will help you approach how your children feel about moving.
Why Did You Move, Anyway?
Parents need to be direct and honest with their children. Moving is no exception. Again, the simplicity and complexity of this statement relies on the child’s age. It would make no sense to tell a kid in grade school that you moved because you got a better job, but if you told a teenager in high school this, they would likely understand. In most cases, you likely moved away from something bad and towards something good. This is the angle you should be coming from when explaining why you moved to your children. The mentality behind moving, in nearly all cases, is to pursue a better lifestyle in the long term. Your children must know this.
“There is Always Something or Someone Better”
Believe it or not, this is more or less the mentality of moving: The possibility of something new and better. Children need to understand two things as early as possible: nothing lasts forever, and there is always something or someone better. If your child is upset because he or she had to leave behind a really good friend or even a significant other because of moving, it is your job to convince them that an even better friend or significant other is right around the corner. Never forget the reason why you moved in the first place. In most cases, you moved to something that offers a better lifestyle. Your child also deserves new and better things as well and it is your job to convince them that this is possible because you moved.
Talk About Moving as Soon as the Plans are Made
Kids are much smarter than most adults think. Even a young kid in his or her grade school years can tell when a parent is hiding something. Parents who think they are protecting their kids by waiting to tell them about moving are committing the common error of having good intentions with bad secondary effects. If you tell your kids about moving as soon as the plans are made, it will prepare him or her. Yes, the younger they are, the more upset they will probably get. This means you must triple your commitment to being supportive.
Involve Kids in Planning to Move
Most children, and even adolescents and teenagers do not feel like they are in control of much. The younger someone is, the more powerless they can sometimes feel around their parents. Moving is no exception here; if you do not involve your kids in planning to move, they will feel even more like prisoners being transported. When you involve your kids in the moving process, they will feel like they are more in control and like they are part of the decision.
Hold off on Big Changes
This can vary with the age of the child as there are certain milestones that most kids experience before they finish high school and/or turn 18 and become an official adult. When you move, you should be aware of these events and wait until everybody in your family is comfortable in their new home before approaching these milestones.
Don’t be Too Quick to Get Rid of Things
Most kids treasure their possessions, feeling a personal connection with them. If you throw away, sell, or donate a possession that they have an attachment to because of moving, this could distress them. This is especially true if they are extremely young. If anything, ask your child if they really like a certain possession that you wish to get rid of after moving. Most kids are accustomed to asking their parents for permission to do certain things. This is one instance where you need to flip the script and be the one asking them for permission.
Help Them Say Goodbye to Their Old Environment
People, not just kids, get very attached to an environment that brings them great pleasure. One of the reasons moving can affect kids so much is because they fall in love with the environment that they are being raised in. It is important to celebrate this if this is the case. Throwing a going away party for your child, taking them to a show or sports event, or even just taking an entire day to explore their old environment will help them treasure every moment they spent there.
Help Them Say Hello to Their New Environment
Getting attached to an environment goes both ways. A new environment can bring immense pleasure as well, especially if somebody is impressed with it right out of the gate. And that should be your goal if you are moving. When you move, you should plan to do all kinds of fun things with your kids as soon as possible. You should explore the new environment the very same way you explored your old one: by taking a couple of days and seeing all the sites. This will give your kids, who are usually extremely impressionable, a very positive outlook on what is to come.
Never forget the (likely) reason why you moved in the first place. It is because you found something better in the long term. It is vital that your children know this and it is also important that you prove it to them. When you not only tell them, but show them that better things on the horizon when settling into your new home, not only will they cope more about moving, but also probably be excited about it. Also check out these money saving tips for when you are moving across the country.